Being Pulled Not Pushed – Retiring With A Sense Of Purpose
It always feels nicer to do something if we go to it willingly, rather than being forced to. Being pulled not pushed means looking forward to something; being excited by change rather than being worried by it.
One of the biggest moments of change in our lives is surely when we move from working to not working. Moving into retirement with something to look forward to not only will make the process a more pleasant one, it actually affects life expectancy.
Retiring With A Sense Of Purpose
A study of 9,050 people in England* with an average age of 65 found that those with a sense of purpose over the ensuing 8.5 years were less likely to die.
They used a measure called ‘eudemonic wellbeing’, which relates to a feeling that what you do is worthwhile. Those in the highest category of this definition of wellbeing lived on average two years longer than those in the lowest category.
Retirement doesn’t have to mean no longer being useful. Retaining or finding a new sense of purpose has a direct effect on health and vitality.
What Is Retirement Anyway?
The word retirement doesn’t mean what it used to mean. When I started my first proper job (as opposed to the loafing about temping I did for a while after university), I worked with a chap, John Hunter, who was thinking of taking early retirement. He had worked not only for the same company – Sun Life – all his life, but had worked in the same office, in Kingston Upon Thames. That’s around 45 years walking through the same door every single working day.
Times have changed. I doubt anyone reading this would know someone who has worked their entire life in the same office. Rather than working for one company, perhaps moving departments until we find our niche, we tend to move employers.
The Rise Of The Consultant
These days retirement doesn’t necessarily carry with it the huge life change that it used to. There is more understanding around the retirement process, and the importance of moving from working to not working is often taken in gradual stages.
I like to think of this as a kind of ‘retirement airlock’. In space films, when returning to the ship, the it is necessary to stand in the airlock before taking off the helmet. So one needs to spend some time acclimatising to the idea of a new life.
One approach many people have taken is to leave their jobs (perhaps accept redundancy) and carry on working as a consultant. There are 5.7m businesses in the UK. Of this number, 4.3m are sole traders.
In 2000, there were 3.5m business in total. However, of this increase of 2.2m business, 1.7m are sole traders.
This shows a huge trend for people setting up as self employed. This trend could, of course, be due to many reasons, but surely one of them is the rise of the consultant – people leaving employed positions to work either doing the same thing but on their own terms, or something they love in the early years of retirement.
Being Pulled Not Pushed
A meaningful retirement is something that needs to be worked on and prepared for. It needs a financial plan to provide options – perhaps a few years of part time consultancy to provide sufficient income before pensions start to pay, for example.
It also, however, needs readjustment, and this takes time. Financial planning is really very simple, just work out what you want from life, and then spend your money on that. This is just as true when approaching retirement.
Spending time working out what you want from retirement, then creating the plan to get there, should mean that the next phase of life will be pulling you towards it, rather than the previous phase pushing you there.
*The full study, entitled “Subjective wellbeing, health, and ageing”, can be found here